Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are You A Smart Atheist or A Not-So-Smart Theist

Results from a research experiment that are slated to be published on March 2010 in the issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, it was concluded that most individuals who identify themselves as liberal and atheist had a higher I.Q. then people who characterized themselves as conservative (source).

The article goes on to say that "The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning" and that "the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people."


Although the individuals who executed the above experiment go on to say that stereotypes based on their conclusions are inappropriate, the reality is that they are also inevitable. How many well known misanthropic atheists such as Richard Dawkings, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris - who have virulently lumped together every member of just about every religious tradition with the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks - are going to feel intellectually glorified after reading the conclusions of this experiment? Their type of atheism is venomous, and is guided not so much by disbelief in God as it is by a deep seated rancor towards religion.

Apocalyptic Babble

"But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." ~ Matthew 24:36

With all the horrific earthquakes and tsunamis that the world has experienced in recent years, I'm surprised that Christian fundamentalists haven't revved-up their end-of-times sermons and preachification. For how long have religious and New Age zanies been predicting the rapture and the end of the world? I've been hearing this stuff for years now with no accuracy whatsoever. Someday they're going to get it right, not because they have some supernatural contact telling them things none of us can hear, but because eventually we know the world will come to an end. Even the irreligious who practice their own version of scientific fundamentalism believe the earth will someday perish.

Remember, folks, when it comes to Catholicism and eschatology, Mathew 24:36 is the golden rule.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Church Music

Have any of you sang the first song during mass? I'm trying to recollect what parish I was in when I sung it but I can't remember which one.

Yes, it is a nice hymn, but nothing like the second one below.

What was Father Gregorio Allegri thinking when he compose this piece almost four hundred years ago? For a complete dullard like me, it's impossible to even figure out how he was able to go from one note to another without wrecking the beauty, Mystery, and transcendence of what in my humble opinion is the greatest sacred musical work ever conceived. In a few short weeks, this piece will be performed in the Sistine Chapel.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alexander Haig, Ronald Reagan, & Others

I remember Alexander Haig from the Reagan administration. When I was a kid, my mom had a pamphlet about the size of a business card detailing some facts about his life. Stuff like he was a Republican and general, a Roman Catholic - you know, that type of things you want people to know about you when you are running for office. I'm pretty sure she would have voted for him had his bid for the Presidency contained more momentum. Yesterday, Alexander Haig passed away at the age of 85.

Regardless of how you feel about Ronald Reagan, one can't help but feel saddened by
the number of cabinet members from his administration who have passed away. Their youth coincided with WWII and the Korean War, and their political and military positions were shaped by the proliferation of communism and the Soviet Union. There was something respectable about being a politician during the days of Ronald Reagan. Even if embroiled in some kind of political scandal, you could still emerge from it as a statesman with a lot more respect than contemporary political hacks. And even if you dislike the military build-up this country experienced under the Reagan presidency, most experts - to my knowledge - credit his administration with winning the Cold War.

Here are just a few individuals affiliated with the Reagan White House who have passed away. Although I was just a child when Ronald Reagan constructed his administration, I remember these folks especially. Their names were quite ubiquitous between 1980 and 1988.

Ronald Regan- Secretary of Treasury (December 21, 1918 – June 10, 2003)

Caspar Weinberger- Secretary of Defense (August 18, 1917 – March 28, 2006)

Jeane Kirkpatrick- Foreign Policy Adviser (November 19, 1926 – December 7, 2006)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

"Remember man, thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Showing Your Anger

In an interview he gave for a documentary a number of years ago, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete encouraged anyone who agonized over their faith to aggressively pursue those questions regardless of where the road took them. If it meant, out of sheer frustration, to wave your hand in the air and curse at God, then so be it. I will never forget Monsignor's candid interview, nor will I fail to remember my reaction to his words, since I interpreted them as a provocation to commit a great sin. In retrospect, I understand what Monsignor Albacete was trying to say.

You see, I no longer think that getting angry- and I do mean ANGRY - with God is such a bad thing. I think the anger towards God that many may be experiencing in their lives is just another invitation/ opportunity to seek Him on an extensively profound level. I believe the Monsignor encouraged believers and skeptics alike to toil with their frustrations with God because he knew that at the end of such an exhaustive and battering process was God Himself.

On the television drama The West Wing, President Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) rages against God for having allowed an accident that killed his secretary to take place. I must admit to never having seen a single episode of this drama, but I did manage to catch what might be the single most riveting scene in the entire series

President Josiah Bartlet is Catholic. The translation to the words in Latin are just below the video. If any of these translations are wrong, please notify me at once. Thank you.

Gratias tibi ago, domine.
Thank you, Lord.

Haec credam a deo pio, a deo justo, a deo scito?
Am I to believe these things from a righteous God, a just God, a wise God?

Cruciatus in crucem
To hell with your punishments! (literally "(put/send) punishments onto a cross")

Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui; officium perfeci.
I was your servant, your messenger on the earth; I did my duty.

Cruciatus in crucem -- eas in crucem
To hell with your punishments!
And to hell with you! (literally, "may you go to a cross")

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Shall Not Walk Alone

I think this one qualifies as folk music, NOT country. Anyway, it kinda reminds me of the Beatles' Let It Be with its reference to Mary in the chorus. I've included the lyrics below so you can judge the song thumbs up or a thumbs down. Personally, I give it a thumbs up, but I don't quite feel it belongs in mass.

Oh and where did I come across it? Of all places- an episode of Lost.

Battered and torn, still I can see the light
Tattered and worn, but I must kneel down to fight
Friend of mine, what can't you spare?
I know some times, it gets cold in there

When my legs no longer carry
And the warm wind chills my bones
I reach for Mother Mary
And I shall not walk alone

Hope is alive, while we're apart
Only tears speak for my heart
Break the chains that hold us down
And we shall be, forever bound

When I'm tired and weary
And a long way from home
I reach for Mother Mary
And I shall not walk alone
I shall not walk alone

Beauty that we left behind
How shall we tomorrow find?
Set aside our weight in sin
So that we can live again

When my legs no longer carry
And the warm wind chills my bones
I reach for Mother Mary
And I shall not walk alone

I shall not walk alone

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Father Mychal Judge

Recognized officially as the first victim of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan who served as chaplain for the New York Fire Department. He was killed (if I'm not mistaken) by falling debris from one of the collapsing World Trade Center towers. Much has been said of Father Judge, including reports that he was gay (in orientation, not practice). His sexuality was discussed in the 2006 documentary The Saint of 911, which chronicles major events of his life, and includes interviews with colleagues and other individuals who knew him personally.

I know many bloggers have written extensively on Father Judge (especially right after his death as reports of his life began to surface) both in favor and in condemnation of the late priest. Some Catholic authors have thrown in their two cents on this subject matter and vigorously denied Father Judge was gay. These authors allege that Father Judge's life is being commandeered by gays and lesbians to promote their agendas and political objectives. Others, however, have supposedly given proof that Father Judge was gay by submitting excerpts of entries he made in his journals. He also supposedly revealed the true nature of his sexual orientation to friends and colleagues who were close to him. By all accounts, Father Judge remained faithful to his sacerdotal vows of celibacy and remained chaste to the last minute of his life.

I was hesitant to write this post simply because individuals like Father Judge have become a cliche poster child for Catholic controversy. Regardless of the benevolence and authenticity one detects in his life, it's almost impossible to avoid recognizing that his time on earth is celebrated more by a politically correct caucus than by any faithful Catholic coterie. When the name of Father Judge is brought up for discussion, those sources who are vehemently anti-Catholic diminish their quasi-misanthropy for all things Catholic without actually appreciating that Father Judge was Catholic as well. Perhaps they regard him as their type of Catholic.

I recently came across this image again, which is what triggered this post:

In this picture - which still moves me 9 years after the September 11th attacks - I'm assertively reminded of what I would describe as the inherent fragility of the human sinner. In this final image, Father Judge's politics, right's and wrong's, flaws and weaknesses have all come to an abrupt and violent end, and are devoid of the rigor and fervor that may have caused other people to dislike him. Gay or straight, regardless of who he was, in this picture he seems so fragile, so human, so surrendered, and so broken by the unspeakable evil that lurks inside the worst of human nature.